Mike Williams - Camera 2 (et al)

Mike Williams is a composer, drummer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ who has worked and played  with the likes of Samantha Ronson, The Teddybears and Nancy Boy to name just a few. He’s now a member of Camera 2 and recently made the transition to IEMs with UE Pro. We wanted to get an idea of Mike’s musical history and also his perspective of what it was like to finally make the switch to IEMs and get his thoughts on how it’s changed how he approaches performing.

image

Hi Mike! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s start with your musical history, can you tell us about the bands you’ve played with in the past?

Well in a live format, I’ve played with numerous bands over the years, but lets stay with bands of some note and/or actually got a good old fashioned record deal. While in London -  I’m originally from Liverpool - I started with a 3 piece rock outfit called Underneath What (WEA records). Toured globally to a very well received debut record (yes I said record) which unfortunately ended up slowly disintegrating assisted by all the usual r ‘n’ r trappings. Then I met a bunch of chaps, (1 Brit and 2 Yanks) in London from New York city, minus a drummer and wanting to do shows. After a 15 minute audition, I played with them that night, and then the following weeks in Europe. A month later we were in New York and I never left. With the noise we created, we had a deal just a few months later. By the time it had run it’s course (7 years later), we’d had 3 major deals, (Sire/Electra, Hollywood, and Equator) worked with some amazing people Shel Talmy (The Who, The Kinks), Dean Delo (Stone Temple Pilots), Steven Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Tim O’Heir (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, All American Rejects), played Wembley in London, opened for Brits Blur and The Charlatans(UK), The GoGos, and the only time all 4 original members of the Monkees reunited. Was quite a whirlwind but a very exciting period. That band was called Nancy Boy. In the subsequent years I’ve done numerous session gigs for artists including, TeddyBears (Sweden), Santogold (US), Rialto (UK), Five O’Clock Heroes (UK), Brookville (US), Samantha Ronson (US -sister to producer Mark). More recently I have just come off a 4 month US & European stint touring with Brooklyn based electro rockers Camera2. When not on the road, I, like so many other musicians these days, write, record, produce, mix, license, and sometimes DJ at my own home studio here in Brooklyn, NY.

You’re not just a drummer, you’re a singing drummer. Can you tell me about some of the challenges you faced before using IEMs?

Yes. I’m one of those guys - a singing drummer! Doing back-ups on the road into a mic on a stand over the hi-hat. No easy task in those antiquated days pre IEMs - with earbuds in, playing backing tracks, click blasting in one ear, tracks in the other, then a stage monitor speaker behind me next to my floor tom crapping out due to the shear volume needed to hear me sing in pitch over the kit, band, and with my buds in. Not to mention the feed back issues. As you can imagine, there was some nights were I could barely hear anything, desperately trying to stay on the click. Flying by the seat of me pants, I was.

Also, I was the only one with click track in my ears so the band would sometimes pull or push me off while speeding up in excitement. Now all the band has the click in the background of their ear mix and we are considerably tighter as a group.

You’ve just made the transition over to IEMs [In Ear Monitors]…

Oh have I! Every so often there’s one piece of technology you get that has a huge difference in how you accomplish what you’re trying to do. IEMs are that!!! I’d tried so many sport ear-bud combos, but nothing could deliver the sonic capabilities of professional IEMs while remaining actually in my ears comfortably.

Which model of UEs are you using?

I’m currently using the UE7’s. I’d had no experience of pro IEMs previously, so decided on a mid priced model. I was NOT disappointed.

What made you do the switch IEMs?

We were on the road in the US and first of 3 on the bill. The other 2 bands came in each day and were able to set up quickly and not spend much of their valuable sound check time sorting out their onstage sound. The biggest thing we learned (beside IEMs’ high quality) was that your in ear mix will probably rarely change once you have it set for the tour, therefore avoiding not only wasting sound check time (in this case 25 minutes before doors open) but the need to set up (and more importantly tear down) the floor monitors when you have a 15 minute changeover between bands. Imagine eliminating all those cables and heavy speakers, roadies to set them up, on top of having 3 bands FULL back line on stage. It was a Christmas miracle, I tell ya!

Mike Fanuele our Tour Manager who’s worked with Dashboard Confessional, Bon Jovi, and Hanson recommended UEs for our UK tour, and once set up, we never looked back.

Was the switch difficult to make? Was there a big learning curve?

The switch, for me at least, was easy, as I’d had experience of something in my ears on stage for a long while. Only now I could hear everything clearly, consistently, and with controllability. The only minor scare we had was the first time several of us heard slight RF (interference) and thought this system was about to crash. But it quickly went away and we were fine. As I’d also had custom molds done for ear plugs (protectors) several years back, I wasn’t  aware of any learning curve having something that far in my ears.

The rest of Camera2, especially Andy, the singer, were in heaven. Andy was now able to hear his mix wherever he was jumping around on stage, singing with confidence and not overcompensating.

How long before you felt comfortable?

Me? 2 minutes.

Have you noticed any difference in your performance since the switch to IEMs?

Oh absolutely! When singing, I can actually hear myself in pitch and on time instead of finding pitch in my head, off mic, then hoping it’s right when hitting the mic. It takes the guess work out of the equation.

Another perk is, we have a channel set up where we can actually converse on stage between band members, and it doesn’t come out of front of house. Great for impromptu set changes, or reminders, or talking to our FOH sound guy.

But I think the biggest and most relieving benefit of IEM’s is being able to reduce the likelihood of (further) ear damage, blocking all the unnecessary stage volume while hearing all you need with clarity, detail. And because it’s clearer and molded into your ears, it doesn’t have to be that loud. I no longer wake up the day after a show with ringing in the ears like I did. I now will hopefully have more ‘years of ears’ while enjoying myself more on stage.

It’s a win-win all around and more than worth the investment to UE’s.

Terrific!! Thanks for your time Mike! Cheers!!

Camera 2’s New Album will be out at the beginning of 2015 / Check out their website for more info. http://camera2.com/

You can also keep up with Mike’s composing work here: http://www.composium.net/

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Dealer Profile - Audique

Ultimate Ears wants to thank Marcel and everyone at Audique for their continued support of all these years! Their enthusiasm about the product, attention to detail and genuine desire to please  customers and provide them with the help and support they need is contagious! It has made them stand out among the best! 

image

Audique was founded by Marcel Peters in 1989 and started with personal moulded hearing protection for the music industry. That tradition continues to this day.

In 1997 they started selling Ultimate Ears. Since 2001 they have been an official distributor for UE, so they were there from the very beginning.

Audique sells UE products in The Netherlands and Belgium. They work with 75% of the well known artists in those countries. The people that work with Audique are all certified audiologists. Audique is well known in the professional music industry, Because of the high quality of the UE-products, they exclusively sell UE.

UE has a tremendous high level of quality in products, sales and after-sales, just in line of the Audique philosophy. If you want to know more, please visit them at www.audique.nl or like them on Facebook 

Larry Crane - Tape Op Magazine

Larry Crane is the creator of Tape Op Magazine. For nearly 20 years Tape Op has been a must read for those looking to learn and explore ideas in creative recording.  Fittingly,  Tape Op got it’s start in the mid 1990’s as a photocopied, hand-stapled magazine with spray painted covers. Since then Larry and his partner John Baccigaluppm who handles layout, publishing and more, have grown Tape Op into an audio magazine with the largest circulation of any out there, and, amazingly, it’s still free!

Larry is also the owner of Jackpot Studios in Portland, OR. In over 18 years of operation, everyone from The Shins to R.E.M to Pavement have recorded there. We were lucky enough to have Larry take some time out of his incredibly busy schedule to chat with us.

image

Can you tell our audience how you got started in recording?

I began messing around with a couple of small Sony reel-to-reel decks (3 1/4”) my parents had used to send audio letters back and forth while my dad was at sea. I graduated to cassette in the later ‘70s. I recorded weird electronic noise of my own and bought some mics to record friends in my teens. I released cassettes from 1980 on and joined a band in 1985 that put out 4 albums. I 4-tracked on cassette and soon that turned into more gear.

What was the idea behind starting Tape Op Magazine?

I wanted to learn more about recording. I wanted to talk about how records on “real” budgets were made. I wanted to talk about creativity over gear.

I was reading that Tape Op has the largest circulation of any audio recording magazine, do you have any idea what made it catch on?

All of the above! It also started at a time with there appeared to be a democratization of recording due to computers.

The forums on Tapeop.com are really great and very active. Do you ever find time to participate?

There’s not enough time to do everything I wanna do. I pop in occasionally but we also have some great moderators who keep an eye on things there. I’ve learned to delegate!

image

Have you ever done any live mixing?

Only a little. I do not like the pressure and the nasty looks from the audience. I like making artifacts far more.

How do you protect your hearing?

I use Planet Waves earplugs all the time. 

Your videos on Lynda are wonderful, and tres informative. Do you do other teaching?

I have done workshops at my studio, as well in other cities. I have 10 students and we examine their mixes and tracking sessions and talk about ways to improve everything, from songwriting, production to mixing and mastering.

Jackpot studio has been around a long time.

18 years almost!

What advice can you give our readers about keeping a studio going these days?

Be part of a community. I’m in session with 2 guys today that used to record in my home for $10 an hr in the mid nineties. They had faith in me then, and we liked each other’s skills and music back then. I didn’t start this studio for my own ego or obsessions; I started it for artists I wanted to work with and so people in Portland would have an affordable choice and someone that really tried to make them sound good.

Do you have any advice for folks who work only inside the box (only computer, plug-ins and headphones)?

Good luck. If you want your records to sound like the classic albums you like, then you better study the process and techniques. Very few albums that people bring up as reference to me were done in the box or even on a computer. But the recording equipment also can have FAR LESS of an impact on the album than the rooms, players, and instruments. Don’t chase the things that don’t matter… but you better figure that out on your own or take one of my workshops!

And lastly can you give a mixing engineer who is just starting out one tip?

Hire someone much more experienced than yourself and go sit and watch them work on your tracks. Nothing else will get you this far. No one, not even Bob Clearmountain, has special tricks when it comes to mixing that will change your results overnight. Just like playing music with others, it’s about listening and reacting.

There is starting to be a lot of scuttlebutt around Hi-Res audio. Any Thoughts?

Hmmm…. I just downloaded a 48 kHz, 24-bit flac version of Tom Petty’s new album this morning. It sounds good through Burl convertors and quality monitors. 24 versus 16 bit is important. I’m not sure most consumer or even hi-fi setups will evidence 192 kHz though!

When tracking at 96 kHz, which I do a lot, I can see a lot of info up to 40 kHz in spectral analysis, even on a vocal track. I think that info is important to the quality of the tracking and mixing, and I try to keep rates as high as I can up to 96 kHz when working. It’s all capturing everything you can then shoving it down a depressing funnel for end user delivery. Vinyl, cassettes, MP3s, AAC, CD and all are letdowns. Most converters are letdowns. Headphone amps in mobile devices suck. Unbalanced -10 dB audio sucks. Nothing beats a full res master in the studio after mixing.

How have you managed to keep Tape Op free all these years?

Advertising pays for printing and shipping. Originally the mag was not free, but it didn’t really make any money. Having a lot of readers makes the ads worth more. Offering free subscriptions gets us the readers. Most mags make little money from paid subscriptions. Journals offer ad free content with a high cover price and usually have fewer readers.

Do you have any passion projects on the go that you want to tell us about?

My wife puts in comedy events and I help her with those… www.jennazine.com

If someone loses their print edition of Tape Op and feel a gaping hole in the nearly complete collection is there anyway to get back issues?

All our issues that we still have print copies of are at Hal Leonard. www.halleonard.com

We also have all our content digital online via purchase or subscription in several forms.

That is great news! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Larry!

Larry can be found at the following virtual places:

www.larry-crane.com

www.tapeop.com

www.jackpotrecording.com

Tape Op’s Review of the UE Pro RM can be found here:

http://www.tapeop.com/reviews/gear/83/in-ear-reference-monitors/

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Matt McCoy and Loop Community

This week on UE University we got a chance to chew the fat with Matt McCoy of Loop Community. Loop Community is the premiere resource for loops, multitracks and sounds for worship. It also is a phenomenal storehouse of tutorials and training for live performance for houses of worship. The community is exceptionally vibrant as well.   

Hi Matt, Tell us a little about your background.

I was born and raised in San Diego, California as a pastor’s kid. My mom and dad were both musicians who played guitar and piano. I grew up surrounded by music, specifically in church. I’ve been singing since I could make noise and started playing guitar when I was in 6th grade. Since high school I’ve been on staff at churches, writing music and performing live with my band. We travel all over the country playing at churches, youth camps, conferences and other faith-based events. I moved to Chicago 6 years ago to be on staff at Willow Creek Community Church, and am currently at Harvest Bible Chapel. I love writing songs, recording and traveling with my band. By the way, my preferred in ear monitors have always been Ultimate Ears UE-7s. When I’m not doing that, I’m running a website called LoopCommunity - which is a music distribution platform for multitracks and loops.

image


How did Loop Community come about?

I’ve been using loops, multitracks and Ableton in live performance since 2003. It’s incredible how much technology can enhance a live bands sound and live performance. One of the main reasons people don’t utilize technology in performance is because they are intimidated by it, or worried about the learning curve that may come with it. My passion and goal is to break down the barriers for people (specifically church music directors) and make it simple to use tracks in live performance. For a long time, there wasn’t an easy way to find multitracks for songs. Back in the day you had to scrounge around internet forums, search blogs, or phone-a-friend to MAYBE find the track you’re looking for. Most people would make their own, using software like Reason or Ableton Live. A few years ago, I got tired of searching everywhere for tracks and decided to build a website where musicians could upload and sell the tracks they make. Loop Community is a community of musicians who make tracks for songs and share them with others. If you don’t know how to make tracks, you can go to Loop Community and buy them. If you know how to make tracks, you can sell your tracks on Loop Community.

How has Loop Community grown over the years?

It’s been really cool to see Loop Community expand. The special thing about the site is that it’s not just an e-commerce website, like so many other web stores. We’ve worked really hard to create a community. We offer free training webinars, an entire Loop University, 1-1 personal training, an interactive community forum called Blocks, comments feeds, profiles, etc. The people who are a part of LC (Loop Community) are proud to be a part. There is a sense of ownership. They feel like they are really making a difference for other churches and music directors… and they are. Literally around the world. Loop Community has only been around for a few years, and in that short time frame we’ve grown leaps and bounds over any competitor. I think it’s mainly because we are a community… not just a stale web-store throwing products at you. It’s the people on our site that mater and make up who LC is.

Loop Community looks to be a extremely active community, how did you get the word out?

The word has gotten out mainly by word of mouth. Our contributors and community members are our biggest advocates and help us spread the word.

Your song catalog is very impressive. Can you explain the different products you carry?

Our main product is what we call CommunityTracks. These are tracks that anyone can upload. If you created a backing track for a song, you can upload it to the site and sell it. We also can distribute the original session file from Reason, Logic, or Ableton. All of the songs on our website are properly licensed from the music publishers. We take care of this on behalf of our users. Another product we carry is called MasterTracks. These are the original tracks from a record label or artist recording. For example, we carry the original studio tracks for all of Phil Wickham’s studio recordings. We work closely with artists and labels in distributing and promoting their projects. We also have a product called SoundPark. This is a section of our site where users can upload and share software instrument patches, presets, samples and sounds for their favorite music software.

image

You also have a foot controller and app - tell us about those.

Earlier this year we launched a USB MIDI Foot Controller called Looptimus. Looptimus is the easiest foot controller for running tracks in a live performance. It’s plug and play - no software or programming needed. You can use it with any music software, like Ableton Live or MainStage, to control your multitracks and loops. Last year, we also launched a free iOS app called “Prime”. If you’re just getting started in using tracks in your live performance, Prime is a great way to begin. It’s very user-friendly and easy to set up. You can create a setlist and playback all of your tracks. You can also use it as a metronome for your band.

It looks like one can upload their music productions as well as receive training. Can you tell us a little more about your vision for future enhancements / programs?

We offer a variety of training. You can check out LoopUniversity and watch a ton of free videos on how to get started in using multitracks in your live performance. We also have a full team of certified trainers that can give you 1-1 training via Skype screen share. On our YouTube channel (loopcommunity2), we offer free live webinars every week about various topics. If you’d like to contribute your tracks to Loop Community, we make it easy. Just click the “Upload” button at the top of our website and submit your tracks. We want everyone to be involved, no matter what musical background or genre you belong.  

Check out Prime iPad / iPhone App for MultiTracks at http://loopcommunity.com/prime

Check out the Looptimus foot controller at http://looptimus.com

Follow Matt on twitter: @mattmccoy  or @loopcommunity

Listen to Matt’s music at http://mattmccoymusic.com

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

UE Pros - Lost and Found

Your UE PROs are a big investment. They are also unique to you, no one else can wear them. So what happens if you lose them?

Well my friend you are in luck. On every case is a reward tag that looks like this:

image

The Reward Tag program is an “insurance plan” we’ve put in place to benefit you.

If the person who  finds your lost  UE PROs goes to rewartag.com/ue and enters your ID number not only  will you get your cherished UE Pros back, but they will receive an award from UE for returning them. So it’s a win win for everyone.  

Now call me over cautious, but I like to add a little extra to my insurance plan.  Here’s a tip.

I have this taped on the back of my case.  You could always just use a business card. But I feel much better letting people know that these are for me and me only.

image

So there you have it. UE has you covered in case you misplace your UE Pros. And as a little extra assurance you can add your own info to the bottom of your case. If you have any other cool ways to protect your investment we would LOVE to hear them!

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Dealer Profile - Thinking Group

The first subject in our dealer profile series is Thinking Group. Thinking Group are well known for their excellent customer service ( Just check them out on Head-fi.org) and forward thinking product line. They have cultivated an active forum for customer Q&A, product assistance and general discussions, which is really cool. 


Can you tell us a little bit about the company?
Thinking Group Limited was established in 1998 with headquarters in Hong Kong and branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taiwan, Singapore and Guangzhou. By having close relationships with worldwide manufacturers & world-class brands, Thinking Group’s sales network now covers Hong Kong, China, Asia Pacific, South East Asia and Middle East. The company’s mission is to constantly develop sales networks in order to penetrate good products to every corner of Asia by providing excellent service and support to our distributors, resellers, retailers as well as consumers. 

Can you tell us a bit about what you offer?
The main product lines of Thinking Group are Professional Ear Monitors, Universal Earphones, Multimedia Speakers, iPod Accessories, Portable Scanners, Computer Input Devices, etc. Besides that we are the sole distributor of world-class brands, including Airocide, Comply, Denon, ETYMOTIC, Geneva Lab,  harman kardon, Jawbone, JBL, Logitech, ODOYO, PHILIPS, SMS Audio, Swissvoice, ULTIMATE EARS, Westone, etc. We look forward to serving you in the near future. If you have any questions or enquiries concerning any of our products, please feel free to contact us.

image


Where you are located?
Thinking Group Limited

Hong Kong Headquarters: 
Rm 1103, 11/F., Join-in Hang Sing Centre, 
2-16 Kwai Fung Crescent, Kwai Chung, NT.

Tel: (852) 2955-1000
Fax: (852) 2955-1130

Email:  info@ThinkingGroup.com

Office Hours: Monday to Friday  (9:00a.m. - 1:00p.m.)(2:00p.m. - 6:00p.m.) Saturday (9:00a.m.- 1:00p.m.)

Website www.ThinkingGroup.com 

Taiwan Branch:

Address 7F., No.150, Fuxing N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10487, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Tel (886) 2-8712-3118
Fax (886) 2-8712-2232

Email marketing@thinkinggroup.com
Website www.ThinkingGroup.com.tw


you can also find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TG.Singapore

We sat down with Thomas Müeller of Acoustix & Don’t Lose the Music in New Zealand and had a very indepth chat about SPL (sound pressure level) reduction in regards to  UE PROs and how that pertained to drummers specifically. First let me give you a little background.

image

Thomas established Acoustix Hearing Technologies in 2004 and from there has used his expertise to setup ‘Don’t Lose The Music’ an initiative to encourage use of good quality hearing protection for musicians, audio engineers, VJs, DJs and those who enjoy live music or club-going.

Hi Thomas, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I help people who are challenged with their hearing; I understand the technology that is necessary to provide solutions to ensure that they can hear clearly in all sorts of listening environments.

I support and assist musicians, sound engineers and audiophiles in their quest for hearing their perfect sound quality, especially for optimum performance on-stage and off-stage.  It is better to prevent and protect than to aid after, as there is no cure for premature permanent hearing loss. 

For those are are new to IMEs, In your opinion what are some of the advantages to investing in a pair of custom in-ear monitors versus a generic in ear solution?

Every musician’s ears and ear canals are shaped and sized differently. Advantages that custom In-ears offer over generic In-ears are easy insertion, ease-of-fit, significant noise isolation, and consistent hearing of your own mix because of the exact positioning in your ears every time you wear them. They take away the frustration on stage of not being able to hear properly because generic In-ears are not fitting your ears properly and end up becoming a distraction instead. Cables on custom In-ears are generally replaceable too, as opposed to cables of generic IEMs available on the market.

What was the trigger in starting your research into IEMs and Noise Reduction?

For several years, I have been supplying and fitting musicians with custom ER-Musician hearing protection and/or custom Ultimate Ears In-ear-monitors to help protect and preserve their hearing critical to their career.

One of my musicians, a drummer whom I supplied with custom Ultimate Ears, wondered if the stated level of noise isolation provided was correct.

As all musicians I work with express concern about preserving their hearing as best as possible, and while there is trust in the products I supply, I am looking for efficient and effective methods to verify that these products do indeed deliver the level of attenuation or noise isolation as stated by the manufacturers.

Can you tell us some of the things you discovered?

I have discovered - in my case study with the drummer mentioned above - that his Ultimate Ears do provide 25dB noise isolation across the frequency range of traditional hearing testing from 125Hz – 8000Hz.

So I guess it’s obvious … but things are very loud behind the kit. What would an ideal SPL be?

Noise-induced hearing loss is the deafness that occurs when the ears are exposed to sound decibels in excess of what they can handle.

New Zealand’s national standard for occupational noise exposure is an eight-hour equivalent continuous sound pressure level of 85dB(A) which would be ideal but often is not the case behind a drum kit. Drum kits are significantly louder with 90 -100db considered on the quieter side. 

In terms of SPL reduction especially in terms of drummers what are some potential solutions you have though of?

Drummers who are conscious of their hearing tend to start off with wearing foam plugs, which is a starting point for hearing conservation, which is better than not wearing any protection at all.  It is a primitive solution because the density of the foam plug’s material muffles and compromises the audibility and clarity of the music. 

The next, most basic solution is using Etymotic Research’s ER-20; these are affordable and offer better (than foam plugs) hearing protection whilst maintaining the audibility and clarity of  music much better than foam plugs do.

The solution for a beginner is getting a pair of custom moulded ER-Musician hearing protection, either with 25dB or 15dB attenuation, depending on the music genre. They are obviously pricier, but well worth it as their attenuation characteristics are flatter and an improvement over the ER20’s attenuation.

The advanced potential solution is a set of generic In-ears, which provide noise isolation and better hearing of click-track on stage behind the drum kit.

The professional solution is to invest and acquire a set of custom (Ultimate Ears) In-ear-monitors.

However, I have been informed by drummers that where db levels become excessively loud for them behind the drum kit, especially with various genres of heavy metal music, Peltor headphones (cans) are worn over the top of their In-ears for additional attenuation and better audibility of click-track which has to compete in that environment. 

How can we help people understand how severe the potential threat to a drummers hearing is? Do you see the potential evenly across the drum world i.e.(studio musicians vs. live sound, amateur vs. professional) How can we encourage more people to take better care of their ears

I see the potential evenly across the drummers’ world because there is always the risk and potential of unintentional or accidental damage to a drummer’s ears, whether this takes place in the studio or on stage. I think that raising awareness and education is a positive means of encouraging more people to take better care of their ears; I am certain that they would love to spend quality time with - and be able to hear - their future children or grandchildren later in life.

This is all really fascinating and very useful information. I love what you are doing on http://dontlosethemusic.co.nz do you have a presence in other places i.e. social media or web forums where people can contact you?

I would love to connect with more musicians, especially those based in New Zealand and Australia, and I’m happy to provide further information to anyone who is interested in this research.   I also plan to publish material on related topics in future so feel free to follow me on Twitter (@dontlosemusic) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/dontlosemusic).

Again thank you for taking the time to sit with us and say a word or two about your research.

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Interview with Bandzoogle CEO David Dufresne

Gone are the days of hand coded websites. The rise of Wordpress and  other platforms like WIX and Squarespace have made it easier than ever to create and update your site. The trouble is while many of the options out there are suitable for most needs, they are not usually ideal for musicians. If this is something that you have encountered you should take a look at Bandzoogle.  

Bandzoogle is a website platform designed with the working musician in mind. It was started in 2001 and has since grown to well over 20,000 users, from small DIY bands to some names you’re sure to be familiar with. One of the most amazing features of Bandzoogle is the community of users. Need advice about touring? Looking for a new axe? Trying to find a good T-Shirt printer? All these things and much more can be found in the forums. UE University was lucky enough to get CEO David Dufresne to sit down and answer some questions for us.  

image

Hi David, Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. When did you start Bandzoogle?

My partner Chris Vinson (our CTO) actually started Bandzoogle almost ten years ago. The short version of that story is that Chris used to play bass in a Montreal grunge band named Rubberman, and in the late 90s the website he had built for the band helped them get signed to a Canadian major label. After an album, touring and a glimpse of the rock star life, the band parted ways, and the label hired Chris as webmaster for all of their artists. Chris built a console so that managers and bands could update their own websites with new tracks, photos and tour dates. When a lot of his musician buddies started asking if they could use that tool for their own indie bands, Chris has the idea for the startup.

He launched Bandzoogle on his own, with no staff and only a small loan from his old boss and the company has grown independently and organically since then, with no venture capital or major corporate partners. I joined as CEO in 2010 to help build the business and expand our reach. So 10 years in, we have thousands of bands and musicians as customers and a team of about 15 dedicated employees, almost all of them musicians, singers, or (in my case) huge music geeks. And we remain 100% independent and focused on our users and our product.

image

above: Chris Vinson (l.) and David Dufresne(r.)


There aren’t too many web platforms that are music focused. Can you let us in a little on your thought process as to how you develop features?

Our users are our R&D department. We get requests and suggestions from them multiple times a day, and when we see a popular request we add it to our roadmap. We also keep tabs on our competitors, to make sure our design tools remain both easy and powerful, and to make sure we dominate the market when it comes to music-focused features and customer support.

How many artists currently use the platform? 

We have well over 20,000 customers, and a few thousand users that are on a free trial period.

Are these independent artists and labels, majors or a mixture of both?

The majority are DIY, 100% independent bands, but we’re seeing more and more indie labels, management companies, and their artists sign up for the platform. We also have many cult status bands and legendary musicians that used to be on major labels, but have regained their independence and now use our platform for their website, mailing list and direct-to-fan sales. 

Sadly, we are too affordable for major labels and the biggest indies ;-) They insist on spending thousands of dollars on web design, and we’re only $20/month for the Pro level. The websites they end up building are usually all fashion, and no function.
 
How have you adapted to new web technologies such as mobile and responsive design?

We adapted all our legacy themes so that they adapt to any screen size. The header image, the menu and the layout are all responsive, and all our features work on smart phones and tablets. Our most recent themes are built with responsiveness in mind so your design and layouts will perfectly adapt to any device.
 
I love the site wide player it’s a great idea that many website don’t get working as well as could be. What are some other things that musicians might be overlooking that in your experience is important?

When you sell music through your Bandzoogle website, digital or physical, you keep 100% of your sales. Our cut is exactly 0%. That is pretty unique in this industry. Same if you sell merch, and recently we added a feature that lets you sell any digital file. So, you can sell lossless files, you can sell videos (live, instructional videos, stand-up comedy, etc.), you can sell sheet music, ebooks, stems for remixers, loops, anything. And you keep 100% of that revenue.

Otherwise, there’s so many features and small options that are there to make your life easier. Devil is in the details, and when I tell musicians that our events (calendar) feature has a drop-down option that lets you specify if the event is all-ages/18+/21+, they “get” how we are different from a generic website platform. And that’s just a small example.
 
One of the greatest features of Bandzoogle is the very active user forums. Can you tell us about that a bit?

Some of those people are pretty damn intense ;-) But seriously, it’s an amazing community to get first-hand feedback on your website, on your latest track, sell some used gear, find people to play gigs with, tell us your suggestions and requests for new options, etc. We also announce our new features there first, and get instant comments (good and bad) from our users, so it is very important to us.

The cool thing about that community is that our users come from all corners of the music world. So you’ll mingle with metal heads, hip hop producers, folk singer-songwriters, jazz sax players, Lynyrd Skynyrd cover bands, Christian gospel singers, EDM DJs, indie rock hipsters, etc. I love that.

What are some of the future advances you see for the Bandzoogle platform?

First thing, we’re almost done redesigning our own website. That’s overdue and our new lead designer is almost done making the best website ever.

We’ll have more integrations with other web tech providers and social media. We just launched an integration with Bandcamp. Instagram was added recently. SoundCloud is next on our list. Then we want to integrate Bandsintown and Songkick into our events feature. PledgeMusic for commerce, etc.

We’re going to launch a major update to our theme design tool, and to our control panel, where most of it will be WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”, meaning you’ll update your different features right on your website). This is actually a huge upgrade to how musicians will use Bandzoogle.

We also want to add major upgrades to our mailing list tool. More newsletter templates, more customization options, better geo-targeting, advanced analytics, that kind of stuff.

Oh… we also plan to make our platform multi-lingual, in order to start targeting Latin America and most of Europe. 
And, we are redesigning the Onesheet.com platform (which we acquired last year) and plan the relaunch it this year, as our first freemium product.

So yeah, we keep busy. But our jobs are about making cool sh*t for musicians, so we can’t complain. It’s pretty awesome.

 I’m really excited about all these new features. Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me.

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

How to Change the cord on your UE PRO IEMs

I thought I would write a little but use photos mostly. A picture speaks a thousand words and all that.

image

I first hold the monitor firmly between my thumb and forefinger (as you can see in the photo I’m left handed) with a pinching motion I grab the connector with the right thumb and forefinger.

image

Then, this will take a little getting used to, squeeze the connector and while pulling your hands apart. Don’t be afraid, the connectors are sturdy and it might take a little energy. And voila they are separated like below.

image

In order to reconnect I line up the plug and socket first and then squeeze them back together like so.

image

image

That’s it. As I say it will take a little getting used to, but you will get the hang of it in no time. If video is more your thing, check it out below. 

Changing the Cord on the UE PRO from Kenn Richards on Vimeo.

How to clean your UE Pro IEMs

Summer is the height of touring season. It’s hot out there and we know that putting in long hours wearing your IEMs means things may be getting a little sticky. It’s all good. Wax build up happens to all of us and cleaning your in ear monitors is an easy process that you can do quick at home or on the road. A quick clean after each use goes a long way to avoid potentially damaging build up that can affect the sound/balance of your monitors, much less chance you’ll have to send your UE PRO’s in for servicing.

image

Here are a few tips for cleaning your ears after every use:

  • First rub down your in ears with wipes (Custom IEM Wipes can be purchased by calling us at 800-589-6531). Be sure to cover the ear canals so no liquid gets in. 
  • Carefully use the wax cleaning tool to remove debris. If you do not have your cleaning tool a dry tooth brush will work as well. Do Not use water while cleaning your ears.
  • When cleaning the canal, hold the IEM with the opening at the bottom so that wax particles fall out and away (downward from the monitor) instead of into the device.  
  • Use a dry toothbrush to scrub the outside of your monitors.
  • After using the IEMs, wipe them dry real quick before you put them away. Sweat and earwax are slightly acidic so it’s great to not trap that in the case with the IEMs between each use.

After cleaning your in-ears if you feel like you still haven’t gotten the job done, UE offers a deep cleaning service for $50.00. Just send them in and you’ll have them back in a jiffy Call 800-589-6531

Don’t let gunk funk up your monitors.

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Share on Tumblr